5 Fall Superfoods for Better Oral Health

dental superfoodsThere’s a chill in the air and the autumn harvest is plentiful. And many of the fruits and vegetables currently in season actually benefit your oral health. To keep your mouth in good health during this season, check out these five fall superfoods that are just ripe for the taking.

Apples
Often referred to as “nature’s toothbrush, “apples have a fibrous texture that helps cleanse and brighten your teeth. Chewing an apple also stimulates your gums, which increases saliva flow to help decrease acidity in your mouth that causes tooth decay. What’s more, by providing gum stimulation, apples help reduce bacteria that cause cavities.

Brussel Sprouts
This green leafy vegetable contains vitamins and minerals that are crucial in maintaining good oral health. Brussel sprouts are rich in vitamin C, and they also contain phosphorous, a mineral stored in your teeth and bones which helps your body absorb magnesium and calcium.

Pomegranates
This superfruit is a heavy hitter when it comes to fighting dental plaque. Bacteria-causing plaque can lead to gum disease. The juice in pomegranates contains antiviral and antibacterial properties that effectively removes and fights plaque buildup.

Turnips
The dark green leaves found at the top of the turnip vegetable are incredibly nutritious. Rick in vitamin C and vitamin K, turnip greens are good for your vision and for calcium absorption, making them essential for promoting strong, healthy bones and teeth.

Pumpkin
Last but certainly not least, pumpkin is chock full of vitamins and minerals while being low in calories. Pumpkin contains zinc, which helps keep bones and teeth strong while protecting against bleeding gums. It also includes iron to keep your tongue healthy and magnesium to take care of your tooth enamel. The vitamin A found in pumpkin helps protect against cavities and contains healing properties, and vitamin C strengthens your immune system and helps prevent infections and inflammation in your mouth.

To learn more about keeping your mouth healthy during the fall season and beyond, schedule an appointment by completing our convenient online contact form. For locations, click here to find a center near you.

What to do for Bleeding Gums

bleeding gumsDo you notice a bit of pink when you spit out your toothpaste after brushing? Does this sometimes happen when you floss? In most cases, this isn’t a huge cause for concern. But if your gums bleed regularly when you brush, it may be time to evaluate what’s causing this to happen. Here are some reasons why your gums bleed and what you can do about it.

Be More Diligent About Oral Care
If you’re not brushing and flossing daily, you’re opening the door for plaque and swollen gums. And when plaque lingers on your teeth for too long, it hardens and becomes tarter. Your bleeding gums then get worse and you’re at risk for more advanced forms of gum disease. Take care of your teeth by brushing and flossing regularly with a fluoride toothpaste. And see your dentist on a regular basis for professional cleanings.

Switch Up Your Diet
Consuming foods that are high in sugar or simple carbohydrates sets the stage for plaque formation. Opt instead for foods low in sugar and high in nutrients you would find in fruits and vegetables. Nutritional supplements can also promote good oral health, so considering adding calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, magnesium and fish oil to your diet to boost your immune system and nourish the soft tissues in your mouth.

Kick the Habit
If you smoke, you’re putting yourself at greater risk for gum diseases. The toxins found in cigarettes create inflammation and reduce your body’s ability to fight off disease. What’s more, smoking can trigger enlarged gums which are more prone to bleed. Quitting smoking now can greatly increase your chances for healtier gums and an overall healthy mouth.

Evaluate Your Toothbrush
It may seem like harder, firmer bristles will get your teeth cleaner, but brushing with harder bristles actually causes irritation to your gums, which can promote bleeding. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles in order to get a clean mouth without irritation.

Visit Your Dentist
If the above adjustments don’t help your gums stop bleeding, the next logical step is to see your dentist. He or she can evaluate your teeth and gums to assess whether or not you have a more serious condition like gum disease. By receiving the right professional treatment, you can eliminate your bleeding gums into the future.

To learn more about caring for bleeding gums, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall visit or call 540-373-2273. We look forward to hearing from you!

Dealing With a Cracked Tooth

Cracked ToothThere are many ways to crack a tooth. Sustaining a blow to the mouth during sports or in an accident is one way. Grinding or clenching your teeth is another. But it may be surprising to learn that you can also crack your tooth by doing simple tasks like chewing on ice, nuts or hard candy, as well as exposing your teeth to extreme hot and cold. But how do you know if you’ve cracked a tooth? Unfortunately, it’s possible to have a cracked tooth and not experience any pain at all. But other times, you may have one or all of these symptoms:

  • It hurts to bite down
  • The pain is intermittent, not persistent
  • It’s painful to eat and drink, especially hot and cold foods, or foods that are sweet or sour

Why Cracked Teeth are Painful
Sometimes your teeth can have tiny cracks that don’t cause any pain at all. But when the crack in your tooth is larger it can expose the soft tissue (or pulp) underneath your tooth that holds its nerves and blood vessels. When this happens, eating or drinking hot and cold foods or beverages irritates the tissue and causes pain. And if the crack goes undetected or untreated, this tissue can become damages or diseased, putting your tooth at further risk.

What to Do If You Have a Cracked Tooth
If you suspect you have a cracked tooth, make an appointment to visit your dentist as soon as possible. He or she may recommend fixing the tooth with a filling or by putting a crown over it to protect against additional damage. If the crack is more serious, a root canal may be needed and, in some cases, tooth extraction will be necessary if the crack is severe.

For more information about diagnosing and treating a cracked tooth, schedule an appointment by completing our convenient online contact form. For locations, click here to find a center near you.

Keeping Your Gums Healthy

preventative dentistryIt’s no secret that brushing daily and flossing regularly are crucial to your oral health. But healthy gums also play an important role in keeping your smile looking its best. Neglecting your gums can cause gum disease, an infection that occurs when plaque is not removed from your teeth by proper brushing and flossing. And gum disease is one of the main culprits for tooth loss in adults. And if left untreated, gum disease can lead to more serious issues like periodontitis. Gum disease isn’t painful, so you may not even know you have it. However, there are other symptoms that could suggest the presence of gum disease, including:

  • Gums that are red or swollen
  • Bleeding gums
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Gums that pull away from your teeth
  • Loose teeth

Improving your overall gum health begins with the right flossing technique. Wrap a piece of floss about 18 inches long around each of your index fingers and hold in place with your thumbs. Then slide the floss between your teeth and wrap it around each tooth in a “C” shape, working the floss up and down. If it feels awkward to use hand-held floss, try a two-pronged floss holder to easily maneuver between your teeth.

Proper brushing technique is also essential for healthy gums. To make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your smile in check, be sure to do the following:

  • Hold your toothbrush properly. To make sure you’re reaching the gumline, hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle aimed towards your gums.
  • Use short, gentle strokes. Moving the brush from side to side, use small strokes along the front and back of your teeth and gums.
  • Don’t forget your tongue. Brushing your tongue gets rid of harmful bacteria that lingers in your mouth.

In addition to brushing and flossing, make it a point to visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings to keep your gums – and the rest of your mouth – healthy.

To learn more about caring for your gums, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall or call 540-373-2273. We look forward to hearing from you!

Canker Sores vs. Cold Sores

canker soresMouth sores in general can be irritating and sometimes painful. The most common mouth sores are canker sores and cold sores. But how can you tell the difference?

Canker Sores
When you have a canker sore, it’s difficult to chew or smile without discomfort. Canker sores are small, painful ulcers that carry the following traits:

  • Open sores that can be single or in a group with a white, yellow or gray center surrounded by a bright red border.
  • May be caused by stress, fatigue, hormones or tissue damage
  • Reside inside the mouth, usually on the cheeks or tongue
  • Reappear periodically
  • Can be difficult to prevent
  • Are not contagious

To prevent to recurrence of canker sores, avoid acidic foods that can cause mouth irritation. And refrain from chewing on the inside of your mouth, which may lead to tissue damage that triggers canker sores.

Cold Sores
A cold sore is a blister filled with fluid that usually develops outside the mouth around the lips. The characteristics of a cold sore are:

  • Brought on by a virus- herpes simplex virus (HSV)
  • Can be triggered by stress, fatigue, exposure to extreme conditions or injury
  • Appear as red, fluid-filled blisters and usually in a group
  • Are highly contagious

If you feel a cold sore beginning to surface, there is a brief window of time for you to intervene before it gets worse. Begin by keeping the cold sore area clean and avoid touching it. There are over-the-counter medications you can use to shorten the duration of a cold sore. These include Docosanol (Abreva) and Benzyl alcohol. Many people also suggest Carmex as an effective cold sore treatment. When you get a cold sore, be sure to abstain from sharing food, drink or utensils with anyone else. And never share hand or bath towels, which can spread the virus.

For more information about the difference between canker sores and cold sores, and how to treat them, or to schedule an appointment, please complete our convenient online contact form. For locations, click here to find a center near you.

5 Easy Tips for Plaque Prevention

aesthetic dentistryPlaque build-up is no laughing matter. When plaque accumulates, your teeth feel like they have a slimy coating, and if this is left on too long, it can wear away tooth enamel and cause tooth decay. What’s more, bacteria found in plaque can make your teeth turn yellow and give you bad breath. To learn more about the best ways to combat plaque, check out these five helpful guidelines.

  • Brush Daily. Brushing twice a day is one of the best ways to care for your teeth and gums. Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and choose toothpaste with fluoride. And don’t neglect your tongue, gums and the insides of your cheeks where plaque also forms.
  • Floss Regularly. This isn’t the easiest habit to get into, and it may seem tedious and time consuming, but flossing is essential for fighting plaque. It helps remove food particles between your teeth that your toothbrush is unable to reach. While twice a day is great, just flossing once a day can make a big difference.
  • Rinse Your Mouth. Using an antiseptic mouthwash along with brushing and flossing is the ultimate triple threat for stopping plaque in its tracks. Gargling for just 30 seconds each day can go a long way to warding off bacteria found in plaque.
  • Watch Your Diet. Sticky, sugary candies are major culprits for plaque buildup. That’s because they linger on your teeth longer than other foods. Other foods that cause plaque include cereal, bread, potatoes and corn. After eating these types of foods, try to make it a point to brush as soon as possible.
  • Get Regular Cleanings. A professional cleaning by your dentist will keep your teeth healthy and plaque free, just as long as you continue to care for your teeth diligently in between visits.

To learn more about plaque prevention, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall visit or call 540-373-2273. We look forward to hearing from you!

Dry Socket Prevention after Wisdom Teeth Removal

The majority of people who have their wisdom teeth removed experience only minor swelling and discomfort. But a small percentage will develop a dry socket after the procedure. When you have your wisdom teeth removed, a blood clot forms in the hole in the bone where your tooth was, which helps protect the bone and nerves. When it becomes dislodged, it creates a dry socket that can then be home to food and bacteria. This causes pain and discomfort, and greatly impedes the healing process.

If you experience any of the following symptoms following wisdom teeth removal, it could be a sign of a dry socket:

  • Dull and throbbing pain that develops 24 to 48 hours after wisdom teeth extraction.
  • Emptiness in the socket where a blood clot should be
  • Foul odor or taste coming from the extraction site

While dry sockets are extremely painful, there are ways to prevent them from happening:

  • Take it easy. You’ll need to get plenty of rest following surgery, so abstain from doing any normal activities for the first week.
  • Drink plenty of water, but avoid alcohol, carbonated or hot drinks for the first day. And avoid using a straw, which can dislodge the blood clot and lead to a dry socket.
  • East soft foods. Applesauce, soup, mashed potatoes and yogurt are good options. Stay away from crunchy or chewy foods which may lodge in the socket.
  • Avoid smoking. Using tobacco products can interfere with proper healing after wisdom teeth removal. If you smoke, abstain for the 24 hours following surgery.
  • Rinse your mouth. For the first day after surgery, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water every two hours to remove excess bacteria. And when you brush your teeth, do so carefully and avoid the extraction area.

If you do develop a dry socket, the best thing to do is visit your dentist immediately.

To learn more about dry socket prevention after wisdom teeth removal, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall visit or call 540-373-2273.

Living Comfortably With Dentures

denturesAdjusting to life with dentures can be a challenge. You may find it difficult to speak normally or chew in a comfortable fashion. You may also experience dry mouth or bad breath, which can be troublesome. If you’re new to dentures, you know it’s an adjustment, but one that is well worth it. Dentures not only help with your smile; they also play an important part in maintaining your quality of life. To make sure life with dentures is an enjoyable one, consider the following tips.

Clean Your Dentures Routinely
Dentures are just like your regular teeth, and they need to be brushed on a daily basis. As with your natural teeth, dentures can develop tartar and bacteria that needs to be cleaned away. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and scrub them gently, taking care to thoroughly clean the areas where dental adhesive is applied.

Soak Dentures Daily
Brushing alone is not enough to make sure your dentures are properly clean. It’s also important to soak them in a denture cleanser to wash away any food, plaque or bacteria that brushing may have missed. What’s more, socking your dentures will help to combat bad breath. Just remember to rinse them thoroughly before you putting your dentures back in for the day.

Give Your Mouth a Rest
Wearing dentures for a long period of time can cause soreness and irritation, so it’s a good idea to go denture-free for at least six hours each day. The best time for this, of course, is during bedtime. Store your dentures in warm water or a denture solution when not in use. Not only will you be giving your mouth a much-needed break, you’ll be helping your dentures maintain their shape and prevent them from drying out.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly
The fit of your dentures plays a vital role in your oral health, so it’s important to visit your dentist twice a year to make sure your dentures are fitting properly. This is also a good time for your dentist to assess your gums for any infections and treat them accordingly.

If you would like more information about living with dentures, or to schedule an appointment, please complete our convenient online contact form. For locations, click here to find a center near you.

 

4 Helpful Tips to Stop Grinding Your Teeth

bruxismTeeth grinding is a common habit by many, and while some of us may catch ourselves grinding our throughout the day, most of us aren’t even aware that we do it. This can make identifying and treating teeth grinding (or Bruxism) a challenge. Waking up with a sore jaw is one of the tell-tale signs that you grind your teeth, and it’s also more likely when you’re under high periods of stress. This can cause significant damage to your teeth including wearing away your tooth enamel, increased sensitivity and damage to dental work. If you’re prone to grinding your teeth, check out the following tips to help knock the habit.

  1. Wear a Mouth Guard

An extremely effective way to eliminate teeth grinding is to wear a mouth guard at bedtime. Wearing a night guard while you sleep will help protect your teeth from the damage grinding your teeth can cause. Talk to your dentist about the type of mouth guard that’s right for you.

  1. Avoid Alcohol

When you consume alcohol, you’re prohibiting yourself from really getting a good night’s sleep. And when your sleep is disturbed you wake more often throughout the night, which may increase how much you grind your teeth.

  1. Don’t Use Your Teeth as Tools

The next time to get the urge to open that soda bottle with your teeth, don’t. The more often you chew on inanimate objects like pen lids and the like, the more your teeth become accustomed to clamping down. This can lead to the self-conscious activity of clenching your teeth, even when there’s nothing in your mouth.

  1. Relax

Because stress is a natural contributor to teeth grinding, it makes sense that taking time to relax, breathe and recharge would also help you abstain from grinding your teeth. Listen to relaxing music, take a warm bath, or just close our eyes and breathe for a few minutes.

If you would like more information about treating bruxism, or to schedule an appointment, please complete our convenient online contact form. For locations, click here to find a center near you.

 

Flossing 101

flossingIf you’re brushing your teeth twice a day, good for you! You’re doing just what the American Dental Association recommends. But don’t forget to floss. In fact, the ADA suggests you floss at least once daily, more often when possible. It’s one of the best things you can do to maintain your oral health and prevent bigger problems from developing later on. And the best way to make sure your pearly whites are as healthy as they can be is to know proper flossing technique.

Flossing the Right Way
These helpful tips will ensure you’re using your flossing time wisely:

  1. Start with a piece of floss about 18 inches long, or about the length from the tip of your index finger to your elbow. Wind the floss around each of your index and middle fingers, leaving about two inches of floss between your hands.
  2. Pull the floss so it’s taut and gently slide it up-and-down, making sure to reach just under the gum line, then wrap the floss around the base of each tooth and wipe each tooth two to three times.
  3. Be sure to use a new section of clean floss as you work on each tooth, and be sure to floss both sides of your teeth.
  4. Once you’ve finished flossing, brush your teeth. Flossing together with regular brushing is the best way to protect against gum disease and tooth decay.

The Best Type of Floss
Floss comes in many varieties – waxed, unwaxed, thick or thinner. Regardless of the type of floss you use, the fact that you’re flossing at all means you’re effectively removing more plaque from your teeth than you would from brushing alone. The bottom line: the best floss is the floss that gets used.
Your dentist can help determine the best type of floss to achieve optimal oral health. Dental products that have the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval are deemed safe and effective.

To learn more about proper flossing technique, schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall: or call 540-373-2273. We look forward to hearing from you!